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Former Bulldog earns scholarship
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Monica Hall accomplished a lifelong goal last month when she accepted a scholarship to attend school and continue her softball career at University of South Carolina Upstate.

"It's like a dream come true," she said. "Ever since I was little, I wanted to go play Division I somewhere. It's pretty exciting. Not a lot of people get an opportunity like this."

The 2006 Ceres High graduate recently completed her sophomore season at Merced Community College, where she helped guide the Blue Devils to a 34-17 overall record, a first-place finish in the Central Valley Conference (15-3) and Round 2 of the NorCal Playoff Tournament.

The first-team, all-league shortstop batted .320 (49-for-153) from the plate with three triples, 11 doubles, 14 stolen bases, 37 runs and 16 RBIs.

"We did really good this year," Hall said.

Monica earned first-team honors while starring at Modesto Junior College as a freshman. She won 16 games while pitching. Hall also hit .348 with one homer, three triples, seven doubles, 16 stolen bases, 27 runs and 26 RBIs as the Pirates finished in second place in the Big-8 Conference.

Monica signed a national letter of intent with USC Upstate on May 13.

She'll play shortstop or second base for the Spartans, who made history in their inaugural season in NCAA Division I and the Atlantic Sun Conference. USC Upstate finished 34-15 on the year and shared the league title (16-6).

Hall will follow in the footsteps of Merced College product Jessica "Yogi" Addison. The standout centerfielder garnered all-conference accolades for the Spartans in 2002 and 2001.

"Hopefully, I can help them out," Monica said.

Hall visited USC Upstate in April. She toured the campus and watched the team practice.

"When I went to visit, I felt at home," Hall said. "That's a good thing. And they have a really good team."

Monica leaves for Spartanburg in August.

"I'm kind of scared because it's so far away," said Hall, who wants to pursue a career in nursing after college. "I'll be homesick at first, but I'll adapt to it."

Hall is the fifth Ceres High graduate to earn a softball scholarship to a four-year college since 2005. The others are Meghan Franksen (Cal State Stanislaus), Jennifer Arnold (Cal State Stanislaus), Heidi Eisenbeis (St.Mary's) and Kristen Ghimenti (Bethany University).

Hall, Franksen, Arnold, Eisenbeis and Ghimenti were teammates. They learned how to play the sport as members of Ceres Youth Baseball's softball program.

Monica, Meghan, Jennifer, Heidi and Kristen went on to star on Ceres Sizzle B-division and Califorinia Grapettes A-division travel ball squads.

"There's a lot of talent here," Hall said. "Everybody started young. That's what helps them become better players."

Monica had a productive career at CHS. The three-year starter helped lead the Bulldogs to two league titles and three playoff appearances.

Monica and the JV softball team tallied 17 wins and one tie en route to placing first in the Central California Conference in 2003. The Bulldogs went 25-1-2 overall.